My novel Red Hands began as a short story inspired by a good friend and her passion for the documentary, Invisible Children. At the time, I wouldn’t say I was politically inclined whatsoever, I barely watched the local news, let alone what was going on over the other side of the world, but for whatever reason, I listened to my friend and watched the film.

Invisible Children and my friend’s dedication to its cause changed everything. The documentary was horrifying and moving, and my friend’s wish to give it as much exposure as she could, was inspiring. Something kept playing over and over in my head: a group of children, running. It was like a film, and at first I could only see their feet – some with shoes, some without, pounding against the dirt in the early morning light.

I wrote the short story, also titled ‘Red Hands’, a few years ago. Set in the region of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and featuring two Congolese brothers, it received positive feedback from those who read it, though I didn’t pursue publication in a literary journal. The same friend who inspired the story, ended up publishing it in an indie zine she was creating at the time, though I personally never saw it in print.

The characters wouldn’t leave me though, and some years later I began to turn the 1,500 word story into a novel.